We’re Busy Doing Busy Adult Things….But She’s Not.

I often find myself busy. Busy with errands. Busy with work. Busy with Netflix. Sometimes, I’m busy with just thinking about how busy I am. What would I be doing if I wasn’t busy? What do I hope to do someday when I’m less busy? I’m so busy just convincing myself that I’m too busy, and I don’t think I’m alone here.

I have to constantly fight the jadedness that comes with being a busy adult. We adults have been through so much and have seen so many things that it’s hard to snag our interest anymore. That wow factor is just harder and harder to come by. Not to mention, we’re all too busy to notice it anyway.

I find that I’m easily amazed. I like this about myself. It helps in my battle against the aforementioned Jade. I also genuinely like knowing stuff. Collecting fun facts is a casual hobby of mine. I can get very enthusiastic when I get to explain something I know to someone who is at the very least feigning interest.

A different jade than we’re talking about, but still cool.

But, even with my passion for starting sentences with “did you know….”, like anyone else, I can too easily forget to allow myself to be blown away by all the awesome stuff out there.

You know who never forgets to be blown away?

Children.

A kid’s favorite question is “why”. Why is the sky blue? Why is tree bark so scratchy? Why is there so much grass? None of these questions seem inherently interesting to us busy adults. These are things we’ve lived our whole lives knowing to be true. They just are. Why would we suddenly stop to wonder about them now? But if you dare to answer that child’s curiosity with “it just is”, be prepared for the follow-up question: “But why?”

I’m an Environmental Educator for a river research organization in the Midwest. I have a bachelor’s degree in zoology, and I studied stream ecology during my stint of graduate school. I love to get outdoors, get dirty, and have adventures.

And I recently had a daughter.

It won’t be long before I’m bombarded with the “why’s” and the “how come’s”, and I don’t want the answers I give her to snuff that natural curiosity. I don’t want her to too quickly find herself accepting that things just are. I don’t want her to lose her eagerness to explore or her appreciation for learning. At least for now, everything is going to amaze her, and I guess my point is that everything SHOULD amaze her. And it should amaze us too.

I’m going to avoid brushing off her questions with ridiculous answers like “because”. Instead, I’m on a mission to find any reason to see her query as interesting as she does. I’ll explain to her the things I know, and be honest about what I don’t know. If I can’t answer her question, we’ll research it. No topic will be too insignificant. Everything is worth learning, and I plan to remember that, and help her to never learn otherwise.

I’m excited to start this journey with her, not only as her teacher, but as her pupil. I’ll do my best to teach her about the world around her, and I’ll allow her unbridled curiosity to teach me to stop and pause, and to remind me to never become jaded.

Exploring the backyard on one of the first nice days of the year.

I’ll be documenting the topics we explore so that others can take part in our experiences and allow themselves to become inspired by a child’s curiosity. At best, we’ll excite an audience and keep followers wondering what she’ll discover next so that they too can learn a thing or two and stay humbled by all the awesomeness the world has to share. At the very least, we’ll have a nice chronology of our adventures.

I imagine this project will take different forms as our journey progresses. Right now, my daughter is just 5 months old. Topics will come from her observations of the world around her as I watch her learn through doing. Later experiences will come more directly from her questions and interactions with nature. As such, this project will for now be mostly contained within this blog, but it’s possible that other facets of our project will emerge as this undertaking grows. Perhaps there will be video of her experiences. Perhaps we’ll create experiments in which you the reader can also participate. What shape this project takes will also change as she grows and decides for herself how much of a role she wants to play in this venture, and also as we decide what level of privacy we’re comfortable with.

I would like to make clear that this will not be a parenting blog. The focus will not be my relationship with my daughter, though I’m sure pieces of that will show through. Nor will I be providing any sort of opinions or advice on child rearing. Rather, this will be a science blog that focuses on learning for learning’s sake as only a child could truly appreciate. My daughter will simply be our topic generator.

She’ll do a better job than any of us busy adults could.

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